Treaty Minister Chris Finlayson says the impasse over Ngapuhi's settlement is largely personality-driven and if NZ First leader Winston Peters can help resolve it his help will be welcome.

Mr Peters went to Waitangi Tribunal hearings in Hokianga yesterday, a visit Te Kotahitanga co-chairman Rudy Taylor described as "a first step in uniting Ngapuhi hapu".

It followed Mr Taylor's invitation to the new Northland MP to help Ngapuhi resolve the impasse over its mandate to negotiate a settlement.

The Crown has recognised Tuhoronuku as the negotiators but that is disputed by the Kotahitanga grouping led by Mr Taylor.


That grouping contains 12 hapu, including Ngati Hine.

Mr Finlayson said if Mr Peters believed he could help, he would be happy to talk to him soon.

"Many issues are not of principle, they're of personality. And if he can help me overcome those I'd be very happy. If he can talk to Rudy Taylor and get him to engage positively instead of being negative and destructive, that would help."

Mr Peters said he went to yesterday's hearings because he was asked to do so and he wanted to get to grips with the situation.

"This issue has hit a roadblock. It's between the Government and the people up here, but I've been asked to take an interest and I am going to take one because I think this sort of delay is not good for the politics of this country, not good for Maoridom, and something needs to be done about it."

He said he had been involved in helping Central North Island iwi reach an agreement in the 1990s and believed it was possible for Ngapuhi.

He did not expect to take a formal role and was yet to discuss it with Tuhoronuku chairman Sonny Tau.

"I'm not going to get involved where I'm not wanted, but they have hit a roadblock. It's very important for the north so I am happy to help if help is wanted."


Mr Peters, who is Ngati Wai and Ngati Hine, doubted he would take a formal role.

Mr Taylor could not be contacted yesterday but after Mr Peters' win in Northland said the MP had the "skill, expertise and wisdom" to unify the iwi.

Previous attempts to get the two groups together have failed.

A Waitangi Tribunal report on the mandating process is due soon and Te Kotahitanga will not rule out legal action.

Tuhoronuku last week named its three negotiators. This upset Te Kotahitanga, which believed it should wait until after the Waitangi Tribunal report.

At the time, Mr Tau said the tribunal hearings were a waste of time.

He said the resources being used on the urgent hearings could have been better used elsewhere and Tuhoronuku's mandate was from Ngapuhi people who had voted on it, not the tribunal.